The House select committee investigating the Jan 6 attack on Congress is seeking an interview with former Attorney General William Barr following the shocking revelation first reported by Politico that Donald Trump’s allies drafted an executive order directing the seizure of voting machines.
Rep Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, made the announcement on Sunday during an interview with ABC News. He added that lawmakers on the panel have spoken with Mr Barr previously in the course of their investigation, but were now interested in learning more about the draft executive order created some time in December of 2020.
Appearing on This Week, Mr Thompson said that his committee had found evidence revealing that individuals at the Justice Department under Donald Trump “proposed” a plan that would have potentially seized “voting machines in the country and utilize Department of Defense assets to make that happen.”
"[W]e've had conversations with the former attorney general already," he added.
News of the proposed executive order was first reported on Friday; according to the document obtained by Politico, the president would have ordered the Defense Department to “seize, collect, retain and analyze” voting machines and related equipment manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, a company that was the target of numerous conspiracy theories surrounding Mr Trump’s defeat in 2020. The company was accused by allies of Mr Trump including Sidney Powell, a former member of his legal defence team, of being controlled by various foreign entities including the long-dead leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.
According to Politico it is unclear who actually authored the document among Mr Trump’s circle of allies, but the order is “consistent with proposals that lawyer Sidney Powell made to the then-president”. It was never issued, and recent reporting has revealed that much of the efforts undertaken by Mr Trump’s allies involved persuading Vice President Mike Pence to interfere during the Senate certification of the Electoral College vote.
The January 6 committee has continued to investigate numerous aspects of the attack on the Capitol, including efforts by Mr Trump’s closest allies to overturn his election defeat as well as the attack itself and two rallies held in DC on the day of the attack including the now-infamous rally at the White House where Mr Trump urged his followers to “fight” just before the attack began.
It was reported on Thursday that members of the committee expect Ivanka Trump, a former top White House adviser and the president’s eldest daughter, to cooperate with the panel’s request for voluntary testimony.